Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Grants Helping Callahan Parks Upgrade among Benefits

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Grants Helping Callahan Parks Upgrade among Benefits

Article excerpt

Callahan's town grant writer Bobbi Boone says the woman who greeted her at Gov. Jeb Bush's Tallahassee office last year seemed surprised.

"She said, 'You can't go any farther,' " Boone recalled recently. "I said I don't need to go any farther. Just give the governor this grant [application]. She told me no one had ever done that before."

Most people sent their grant applications to the agencies from which they are seeking money, but Boone personally delivered them to everyone who would be involved in the approval process.

Since she started working for Callahan six years ago, Boone's tenacity in chasing grants has led to about $7 million for the little town, which is only about 1 square mile. She has pulled in nearly $4 million in the last couple of years alone.

"She's been instrumental in all this," said Town Council President Jack Sikes. "We've got the right person in the right place."

The grants include about $2.5 million to improve drainage following severe flooding in 1998 during El Nino-driven storms, $750,000 from the state for sewer plant improvements and $50,000 from the state to improve Ewing Park.

The drainage grants were part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's "El Nino Grande" grant program formed two years ago to combat the system's weather-related damage. In the first round of grants, Callahan received $500,000 to put in drainage pipes and add curbs, gutters and sidewalks. The state added $62,500, or 12.5 percent. Callahan was supposed to contribute its own $62,500, but the state paid it for the town because it did not have the money.

This year, the town got another $1.59 million from FEMA, and the state chipped in $198,500 for its 12.5 percent share. Callahan will cover its 12.5 percent with an "in-kind" contribution, meaning its workers will do $198,500 worth of work fixing the drainage problems.

"We'll use this money to connect all the pipes that were put in with the last grant," Sikes said. …

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